Originally set in sixteenth century Parma, Commensal’s production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore revives the Jacobean tragedy in the surroundings of modern-day London. Centred on a doomed love affair between two siblings, ‘Tis Pity is a rollercoaster ride of intense emotions, violence and brutality.
Combining contemporary music from a live band, twenty-first entury props, and sultry dance sequences, Will Felton’s interpretation manages to merge the stifling religious control within Ford’s original script with the apparently looser morals of today’s society in an exploration of the ultimate taboo: incest.
Felton explains the reasoning behind his idea to direct a contemporary version of Ford’s ‘Tis Pity: “I wanted to explore the idea of incest as a taboo in current society, and try to answer questions of my own about why it was still seen as so inherently wrong.”
Ford does not provide a moral judgement within his play, but instead leaves it open to the audience to judge for themselves who the truly immoral characters are. The compelling tale is brought to life by Commensal with no reserve, using technical ruses to fully realise Ford’s throat-slitting scenes and bloody fight sequences.
With a pig’s heart ordered for the final performance, the production is guaranteed to be fearlessly gory. Distracting from the brutality of the action, however, is the incredible on-stage presence of the two lead roles. Greg Mostyn, who plays the protagonist and anti-hero Giovanni, and Kathy Stocker, playing his sister and lover Annabella, own the stage, and the chemistry between them is electrifying.
The pair brilliantly convey the sense of their overwhelming passion and lust conflicting with entrenched societal conventions and moral judgement.
Throughout rehearsals, Mostyn found that his character’s “pure, raw emotion” was the avenue he found most interesting to explore, leading to his intimidating on-stage presence.
It is Stocker’s portrayal of Annabella, however, that is most enthralling. She is the undeniable force that captivates both the characters of Giovanni and Soranzo (Adam Diaper), and the audience. Stocket accentuates the defiant nature of her character, and emphasises her strength in the face of disaster.
Commensal’s prodution promises to be a vivid retelling of a wonderfully violent and visceral tale of a brother and sister’s passionate descent into hell, and is assuredly something worth seeing. Strong stomachs advised.